When my father moved to Mallorca ten years or so ago, I thought to myself, “Mallorca? Ugh!” There I was, living in London, having never set foot on Balearic soil, thinking I knew it all and that Mallorca was absolutely the last place on earth I would ever want to visit. Why did I think that? Because I suppose I had read or heard about it somewhere, and why would I have done that? Probably in connection with a horror story about Magalluf.
What a shame that ten years on Mallorca is still being tarred with the same brush.
I had a reason to visit Mallorca, to see my dad, otherwise wild horses wouldn’t have got me on the plane. So you can imagine my shock when I arrived on the island to find that the streets weren’t littered with inebriated teenagers puking into the gutter but that in fact Mallorca truly is a jewel of the Mediterranean. Without that first visit I would probably still have the same opinion of a place which I now love and call my home. Imagine how many people there are in the UK reading articles about Magaluf and assuming that must mean the whole of Mallorca and thinking, “nope, never in a million years will I go there, it’s just not for me”.
On one hand it is vital to get the message out to the young visitors bound for Magalluf that they need to take care of themselves and make sure they don’t put themselves at risk by getting so drunk they don’t know what they are doing, and on the other hand it’s very damaging to the image of our island to only ever see newspaper stories and TV programmes showing the 5% of the worst of the worst stories and never covering the 95% of positive news. We do all believe what we hear, read and see in the media, we do. I think the situation in Magalluf has to be controlled better, there need to be working methods put in to practice to keep those young people safe. Councillor Angela Guerro has already been meeting with local business owners in the Calvia area to find constructive and intelligent ways to address the problems, and I am confident that things will change in Magalluf. We need to educate the visitors about the dangers of excess alcohol and drugs: you wouldn’t blame a mountain if an inexperienced skier broke their leg on a ‘black run’ when they knew they should still be on the nursery slopes so let’s make sure that our island isn’t taking the blame for the actions of a minority of young people who like taking risks. The same scenes in Magalluf can be seen in a lot of towns and cities in the UK on a Saturday night. The differences are that the alcohol is cheaper here, and if you’re on holiday every night is a Saturday night. So regulations please, and quick.
In the meantime we’ve got to get the message out that Mallorca is so many other things as well. We welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to Mallorca to participate in winter sports. Mallorca is the cycling capital of the Europe, if not the world. The cyclists from Team GB and Team SKY all train here throughout the winter season. We have an incredible nautical tradition, and several regattas throughout the year, from the big boy Super Yachts down to the diminutive dinghies. We have the most spectacular beaches, especially along the east coast, and no one knows about them. (Perhaps we should keep quiet about those!). We have thousands of great quality restaurants, even Michelin stars. There is the diversity of entertainment: from world class DJs at BCM to headline acts at Mallorca Rocks to the ballet at Palma Auditorium and everything in between. We have the Tramuntana Mountains which were granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO, we have the spectacular Cathedral in Palma, and a rich and fascinating history to delve into.
Despite the stories about the terrible accidents in Magalluf, Mallorca is a very safe and peaceful place to live and holiday. Children and families are respected: you can turn up a restaurant with kids in tow and not be frowned at and turned away! We have fabulous fiestas all year around, breath taking scenes when the almond blossom is in bloom, and as one friend of mine said, if it weren’t amazing you wouldn’t get the rich and famous showing up to holiday here. We are hearing a lot of stories about billionaires coming to the island to invest, and in fact, if you haven’t already heard, Putin, the Russian President, just bought property here. Palma has the third largest airport in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona, and is one of the busiest airports in Europe during the summer, so the word is getting out there that our little island is not to be missed.
But so many British people still hold the same preconceived negative impression about our beautiful island. It’s time to change the media chip, and give them some good news stories to get their teeth into.